- Three additional Secret Service agents quit the force over scandal
- President personally briefed on state of the investigation
- Questions over whether agents slept with underage girls
- Colombian prostitute at the hear of affair has gone into hiding
- Says she was eventually paid $225 for the evening
- Claims to fear retaliation by the U.S. government
The prostitution scandal which has devastated the Secret Service could be set to spread to the White House.
A senior Republican has urged the investigation into what happened in Colombia ahead of Barack Obama’s trip there to extend to presidential staff who were preparing for his visit.
Senator Charles Grassley’s comments came on the day that three more Secret Service agents who had been sent home over the incident resigned from the agency.
Also on Friday, Mr Obama received a personal briefing on the state of the investigation from Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service.
Mr Grassley urged investigators to check hotel records for White House advance staff and communications personnel who were in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas.
In a letter to Mr Sullivan and the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department, Mr Grassley asked whether hotel records for the White House staffers had been pulled as part of the investigations.
He wrote: ‘Have records for overnight guests for those entities been pulled as part of the investigation? If not, why not?’
Additionally Mr Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked whether rooms were shared by Secret Service, the communications agency and the presidential advance staff.
After three agents resigned on Friday, the number of men forced out by the scandal rose to six.
Five more are suspended during the investigation, while one man has been cleared of serious misconduct but could still face disciplinary action.
Mr Sullivan visited the White House late on Friday to brief Mr Obama in the Oval Office.
The U.S. agents and military personnel involved could face criminal charges if is proven that they had sex with girls under the age of 18.
When Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, was asked if any of the men had done so, he said neither he nor Mr Sullivan could be certain.
‘In the case of the 11 agents, the primary determination is you can’t determine to charge or not charge somebody until you know whether a crime is committed,’ he said, according to The Daily Beast.
‘Under U.S. law, if any of these women are under 18—I can tell you we do not know and Director Sullivan does not have actual contact/picture matched up to verify that as far as I know. When he does, I would expect a call, because that would be a relief to many of us to not have on top of everything else.’
Issa stressed that it was a crime to sleep with minors abroad – although there is no suggestion that any of the men who have been named did.
‘U.S. laws passed in 2003 and 2006 were designed to prevent sex vacations causing harm to underage women,’ the Republican Representative added. ‘We have to respect some things, but going internationally anywhere to have sex acts underage is prohibited under U.S. law.’
HOW OBAMA’S BODYGUARDS UPSTAGED HIS TRIP TO COLOMBIA
News that 11 Secret Service agents had been sent home after ‘nearly all of them’ were caught with prostitutes all but overshadowed President Barack Obama’s trip to Colombia this weekend.
The scandal unfolded rapidly after a tipster called the Associated Press and reported the incident Wednesday night at the luxurious Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, where the agents were staying while the conducted advance security operations to prepare for the president’s arrival.
The agents allegedly picked up the hookers at the seedy PleyClub after a night of heavy drinking and hard-partying there.
They were busted after a prostitute got angry and caused a commotion involving hotel security and local police when one agent refused to pay her. The tab? $47.
Two of the men were supervisors. Several are married and all of them have been suspended, pending an investigation.
Experts say the scandal could have exposed the agents to blackmail and potentially endangered the president.
President Obama, whom the Secret Service claims was never in danger, said he would be ‘angry’ if the allegations are proven true.
Rep Darrell Issa, a California Republican, suggested Secret Service agents might be covering up other sex scandals when he said, ‘Things like this don’t happen once if they didn’t happen before.’